The 2009 New Balance
Victoria Half Iron Triathlon

John tells his tri story - with words, photos and videos

Click on any of the thumbnail photos for a higher resolution image

Photo Montage of the full day - 12 Mg .wmv file

Preparation for the Race

To get ready for my first Half Iron in June 2008, I only started to run and bike in November 2007.  By race day eight months later, I was sure that I could complete the distances successfully, but did not really understand how difficult it would be to perform well in all three activities on the same day.  Also, I did not pay enough attention to the first transition (T1) and spent far too long undressing and dressing.  For 2009, I had improved my times in all three events, and I received guidance from experienced triathletes on how to improve T1.  At the CF National Swim Meet in March 2009, I had a PB in the 1500 Free - 20:20 so I knew my swim would be OK.  During the Victoria Populaire 100K bike, I took off with the leaders and held an average of 36 km/hr for the first hour -although drafting was permitted.  At the Times Colonist 10K in April, I had taken almost a minute off my time from last year and ran 45 minutes.  So, the 'engine' was going to perform.  The first of my race preparation steps was to purchase a Tri suit instead of putting on bike clothing for the ride, and then running shorts for the run.  The next thing was to learn how to get out of the wet suit fast.  The Tyee ladies gave me excellent tips on how to rip your clothes off fast!  Finally, a couple of days before the race, I asked for some racing tips from Matt Barlee who has been on the Canadian Cycling Team for a few years.  As he reviewed the characteristics of my bike, he recognized that I would have drag from my wheels.  He offered me his track 4-spoke racing wheel complete with a high-pressure tubular tire.  Although I was taking the risk of riding equipment on race day that I had not trained on, and would have no way to change a tubular if I got a flat, I took one test ride and declared the bike "Operationally Ready"!

Before the Swim

As Sunday June 21st was 'Fathers Day', I told the kids that the best present that they could give me would be to come out to see me start the Tri, and support me before the start and when I came out of the water.  As you can see from the photos, there is nothing they would rather be doing at 6:30 on a cool overcast day than be at the beach to see me and 500 of my closest friends go for an early morning and refreshing swim!

The Swim

Even though the air temperature was cool, the water was warm.  I was happy to have a sleeveless wetsuit for the race.  When the gun went off, I sprinted a few hundred metres to try to get some distance from the free-for-all that was going on at the start line.  At about the 500m point, I knew that I was breathing too fast and panting so I took a quick look at the wrist to see my Heart Rate (HR).  I saw '145' and knew it was way too high.  My race plan called for an efficient stroke with good turnover - and a HR not to exceed 130.  So much for the plan.  If you have a look at the video, you will see that I was up with the front pack with the top 5-10 swimmers - who were all much better athletes than me!  Here is the link to the swim start video taken by Patrick.  It is a .wmv file that runs 2:26 and is 60 Mg to download.  After the first turn, I slowed down a bit and tried to concentrate on efficiency.  On the 800m return leg, the pack that I was following started to get away from me, so I did not have anyone to draft and became responsible for my own navigation.  When I came running out of the water, my first glance at the clock showed 25 minutes high.  I was unsure if I had seen the correct number!  I immediately thought to myself "I went way too fast".  I heard the announcer, Steve King, saying my name and "from NavyMasters" and something about a good 26 minute swim.  At that point, I realized that it was for real.  I thought to myself that taking 3 minutes off last year's time was a good way to start the day.  You can see the finish of the swim and T1 on the video (12 Mg .wmv file).

The First Transition (T1)

After all the T1 practice that I did, everything worked like clockwork - Goggles up, velcro cover off with left hand, zipper down with right hand, suit at my waist for the run into the area, one quick push down both legs and then step on alternate legs.  Goggles and hat into the bin, grab helmet and sunnies, put on socks and bike shoes, grab bike and run!  I knew that it was faster than last year but the results showed a more than 2 minute gain.

The Bike

I started the bike with a shot of Boost (350 calories - tastes like chocolate milk) and was still soaking wet.  On the downhill heading away from the lake, I was a little concerned because I still had the Boost bottle in one hand and, due to a wet face, my sunglasses were all fogged up on the inside.  Couple that with the uncertainty of the new wheel and tire, and with fast cyclists all around me, I was a little concerned.  But, after the first turn onto Oldfield Road, I relaxed and started to enjoy the day.  In the early portion of the lap, I was holding a 33 km/hr average, which slowed down to about 32 at the airport.  In the 'ride by' video (1.1Mg .wmv file), you can see me dump a Gatorade bottle, get rid of some gel wrappers and tell the family that I am averaging 32 km/hr.  By the end of lap 1, I was averaging 31.7 km/hr.  I had consumed 3 gels as planned at the specific reference points and would consume 3 more at those same points later.  On lap 2, I realized that if I kept that pace up, I would have nothing left for the run, so I slowed the pace a bit.  At the end, my computer showed 30.7 km/hr and the results website showed 30.6.  My bike computer showed 2:49, so I thought that taking 10 minutes off the bike time had to put me in a better position to start the run.  Little did I know that I had a 6 minute lead on the nearest rival in my age group.  Here is the end of the ride/T2 video (6.5 Mg .wmv file)

The Second Transition (T2)

My 2nd Transition is the only place where I lost time as compared to last year.  That was a result of the heavy rain that we had in the last portion of the ride, and the fact that my cycle shoes felt like they were full of water.  When I put on my running shoes, the wet sock caught on the pull-out sole and displaced it.  It just felt lumpy, and I thought that time spent fixing the shoe would be better invested than running 20 kms with the sole sticking into my foot.

The Run

I started off slower than last year.  During the first 2 kms of the run, I was quite concerned that I would not be able to finish because I had major pains in both quads with every step.  It was probably lactic acid that had built up during the bike, but it was so painful that I did not even know if I could endure walking.  As I approached the 2 km marker, the pain went away as fast as it had appeared.  The first 2 kms were the only splits that were slower than last year.  I picked up the pace, and was holding about 5:30 splits.  The only time that went up a bit was when I walked through the 4 aid stations.  At 3 of the 4 on the first lap, I took a full gel and a cup of Gatorade.  I knew that I had headed off at 3:20, and I saw the big clock as I went by at 4:16.  Quick math told me that I had split 56 mins for the first 10 km - exactly the same as last year.  But, I felt much better this year!  On lap 2, I took 1 gel near the start, but my stomach told me that 10 gels was enough.  I took Gatorade at one, then water, then flat Coke and ran through the last one as I was only 2 kms from the finish and things were going well.  I finished at 5:15:02 and the final split was 58:26 so I did not slow down too much.  Patrick saw me as I approached the finish line and ran alongside me and filmed the finish.   Here is a link to the file (3.5 Mg .wmv file)

The Analysis

When I was down in the lake cooling my legs and washing off the sweat, the results had not yet been posted.  I was hoping to be in the top 3 in my age group, but was not really sure if I was.  Patrick came running down to the lake and said "Dad, you won!' - and you won it in T1.  If you had of spent the time putting on your biking shirt and pants like last year, you would have come 3rd!".  He was right - the difference in my T1 times was free time and was extremely significant.

The Official Results for M55-59 - Top 5

1/16 M5559   238  John McManus   North Saanich     BC  133 5:15:02    23 26:15  1:23   60  1:50   21 28:05
140 2:50:21  30.6   81 3:18:25  121  1:56   82 3:20:21  184 1:54:41  5:45 (56:16/58:26)  133 5:15:02

2/16 M5559   381  Brian Flett          Richmond         BC  135 5:16:18   183 36:25  1:55  120  2:32  172 38:57
98 2:45:11  31.6  118 3:24:08  226  3:06  119 3:27:13  160 1:49:06  5:28 (54:32/54:34)  135 5:16:18

3/16 M5559   299  Paul Moraze        Port Moody       BC  136 5:16:43    70 30:45  1:38  109  2:24   71 33:08
150 2:52:27  30.3  122 3:25:34  213  2:51  126 3:28:24  154 1:48:19  5:25 (52:22/55:58)  136 5:16:43

4/16 M5559   473  Rob Cooper         Vancouver        BC  170 5:32:19   212 38:05  2:01  218  4:02  216 42:06
192 3:02:27  28.6  202 3:44:33  195  2:35  200 3:47:08  135 1:45:11  5:16 (53:07/52:05)  170 5:32:19

5/16 M5559   310  Bob McLean        Blackfoot        AB  183 5:37:41   227 39:02  2:04  142  2:45  212 41:47
199 3:03:07  28.5  205 3:44:53  235  3:18  202 3:48:11  162 1:49:31  5:29 (53:50/55:41)  183 5:37:41

Race Total Time
Age Group Rank
Swim T1 Bike T2 Run
2008 Victoria Half Iron 5:35:54
29:23 4:17 2:59:46 1:49 2:00:41
2009 Victoria Half Iron 5:15:02
26:15 1:50 2:50:21 1:56 1:54:41